The German School of Cello Music: Bernhard Romberg

b. 1767 d. 1841

Romberg was trained by father, a successful violinist, at the beginning. After quickly gaining technical facility it is not known with whom he studied the cello. However, we do know that he was good enough to undertake a tour around Germany and France before the age of 20. The last stop being in Paris where was engaged to play at the famous Concert spirituel. After returning to Germany he is said to have devotes himself to a rigorous schedule of practicing progressive studies for the cello.

All this is noted in the book Das Violoncello und seiner Geschichte (The Cello and its History) by Joseph Wasielewski. A 19th century tome about the Cello.

The German school of cello playing didn’t have much time to form before Romberg since the cello was just coming into its own—having outplayed (in volume) the viola da gamba. Romberg was able to make more strides than a host of other competent players of the time. Not only in performing, as is documented by numerous newspaper columnists, but as is evident from his 60 compositions for cello.

He was noted to have performing elegance and charm, with exquisite control over his instrument.

Cello Duos: My first Romberg Music

Specially for this blog and podcast, I began learning some Romberg. As it was my first experience with his music I was completely unaware of how he treated the solo cello.

Although I had heard, in a cello lesson some years ago, one Romberg sonata, it never stuck with me. I knew it was an old style and that it was accessible to students. I was in for a pleasant surprise.

3 Duos Op. 43

1. Bb

2. C

3. G

All three have been learned and all but the last two movements of Duo no. 3 in G major have been recorded.

They are good pieces. As most cellists acknowledge, it is great for teaching students. There are all kinds of passages that sound great and are fun to play.

However, the music can be long and winding. Where another composer might have ended a section Romberg decided to continue on almost repeating himself, becoming redundant.

Over all I like his music. In the future, I will make some cuts to his duos. It only makes sense when he repeats so much and reiterates the same material too often. With some tasteful truncating it seems he could win a performance spot once again.

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